Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Oh, patents on the soles of your golf clubs too…!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The sole of a golf club is:The bottom or underside of any type of golf club. It is where the club rests on the ground in playing position” (Pine Meadows). 

Indeed, this portion of your golf clubs is well-patented too! The EPO (European Patent Office) returned 3730 patents to the search terms “golf club sole” filed by such sports giants as Dunlop Sports Ltd, Yamaha Corp.and Nike Inc.

Undoubtedly, it helps if you are a golfer… because golf clubs speak a language of their own. For example, the “hosel” is the part where the golf club head (also called a “golfhead”) connects to the shaft. The “bounce” is the degree of roundness of the sole on wedges. The bounce helps when the ball is in sand or long grass as it prevents the club head from digging into the ground. As for golf wedges… these are “a subset of the iron family of golf clubs” designed for special situations… for example when the ball is lodged outside of the green, in a sand or grass "bunker" (the golf term for a pit(fall)).  As for the “green” in golf (also called the “putting green”), this is the area, oval or round, at the end of each golf hole (or unit of a golf course), at the center of which an actual opening or “hole” is located, where the ball must drop to mark the end of each hole (or unit). 

Evidently, many more such terms exist for each sort of golf club, their parts or functions, even if just 14 clubs are permitted in a golf bag, at any given time, for each game, according to golf rules set forth by the USGA (United States Golf Association).

Interestingly… the language of golf clubs in French is infused with borrowings. The term club is borrowed (and used in the masculine), generating têtes de clubs for club heads.  The term wedge is borrowed (also imported as a masculine term). Alternatively, the term cocheur for wedge is used in Quebec, with all manner of variations such as cocheur intermédiare (gap wedge), cocheur de lob (lob wedge), cocheur d’allée (pitching wedge) and cocheur de sable (sand wedge) (Glossare GDT). 

However, the sole of the club head translates to French directly without borrowing, as it is called a semelle, and similarly the toe or heel of the (club head) sole are called pointe or talon, so that both English and French draw on foot and shoe terminology for designating the various parts of a golf club….

In terms of (club) head and sole patents, much more is included in golf clubs than meets the eye. The heads of golf clubs are weighted for various biomechanical reasons, such as swing speed and feel, or ball trajectory and distance. Thus, the ways to weight a golf head might be patented. For example the Dunlop Corp. patent application US2016361612, titled Golf Club Head, filed 12-15-2016, is a club head weighting patent.

Golf clubs, designated woods (because they used to be made of wood), irons (because they are made of metal) or hybrids (because they combine woods head design and iron shaft length), are now made of metal or composite materials such as carbon fiber polymers, all of which might be patented relative to the physics and biomechanical properties of golf. For example, the Dunlop Corp patent application US2016354649 titled Iron-type golf club head, filed 12-08-2016, is a golf club-head materials patent, relative to promoting “high rebound performance in the central region as well as in a sole-side region of the club face”.  

Likewise, the shape of golf club heads (e.g.; the loft and lie angles – the angle of the club face, and how the club lies on the ground) as well as their particular connection to the shaft and its variable length, are all patentable -- in connection to the physics of striking and managing the trajectory of a ball, and to the level of the golfer’s skill at swinging (to strike the ball). The following Nike patent application US2016346630 titled Golf club head with polymeric hosel,  filed 12-01-2016, relates to hosel material relative to the club’s moment of inertia affecting the club head’s forgiveness, meaning relative to the structural resilience of the club head to repeated impact with the ball, and between the ground and the club.

The following recent Nike golf club head patent application - US2016354661, titled Golf Club Head or Other Ball Device Having Reinforced Sole Striking, filed on 12-08-2016, also discloses an invention concerned with the physics and biomechanics of golf, in particular, striking resonance and vibration. Indeed, striking resonance is known to dampen the velocity and energy transferred upon impact to the ball. Resonance and vibration are also known to impact the feel of a swing, and to sometimes even cause discomfort. Thus, the purpose of this invention is to improve the resonance and vibration of the golf club head upon impact with the ball, and consequently to increase speed and distance of the ball, as well as the golfer's comfort. 

Below, a figure drawing, extracted from US2016354661, of the triangular truss device inserted inside a wood-type golf club head to control resonance. 

So, now... do you speak golf clubs? 👠

Glossary - Pine Meadows Golf Clubs
Terminologie du golf (Extraite du Grand Dictionnaire Terminologique  de l’Office de la Langue française du Québec – Canada)
USGA - United States Golfing Association
Wikipedia – Wedge (golf)
Wikipdia.fr  - Club (golf)
Wikipedia – Hybrid (golf)
Wikipedia - Wood (golf)

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